Debenhams cuts a further 2,500 jobs as COVID-19 bites

Debenhams is set to cut a further 2,500 jobs from stores and warehouses, as the retailer seeks to stem losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department store chain, which fell into administration for a second time in April, was already facing tough trading conditions before non-essential stores were forced to close for the lockdown.

Last month it was reported that the company’s administrators were considering the potential for a sale of the business as part of plans to safeguard its long term future.

The company announced in May that five stores would not be re-opened after restrictions lifted, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

The cuts come in addition to the decision taken in April to pull all operations in Ireland, and were made in an effort to give the company “every chance of a viable future”, the company said.

The latest decision to cut 2,500 more jobs takes the total lost at the company this year to 6,500, equal to a third of its workforce, over the course of this year.

In a statement, the company said it had reopened 124 stores post-lockdown, and these were “currently trading ahead of management expectations”.

A spokesman for Debenhams said that despite the fact the company is currently “trading ahead of management expectations... the trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations”.

The statement explained that: “Those colleagues affected by redundancy have been informed and we are very grateful to them for their service and commitment to Debenhams.

"Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”

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